Posts Tagged ‘Vietnamese’

South China Sea: Vietnam Forced To End Oil Drilling Due to China’s Pressure

August 16, 2017
THE drilling ship at the centre of a row between Vietnam and China over oil prospecting in disputed waters in the South China Sea has arrived in waters off the Malaysian port of Labuan, shipping data showed today.

PUBLISHED: 09:50, Mon, Aug 14, 2017 | UPDATED: 10:00, Mon, Aug 14, 2017

A tumultuous history of the South China Sea dispute

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Drilling by the Deepsea Metro I ship was suspended in Vietnam’s Block 136/3 last month after pressure from , which says the concession operated by Spain’s Repsol overlaps the vast majority of the waterway that it claims as its own.

The ship, used by Norway’s Odfjell Drilling Ltd., was reported to be in Labuan at 9.17am (0117 GMT). It was last recorded at the drilling site on July 30.

Odfjell Drilling did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Xi Jinping, Vietnam flag and Deepsea Metro I shipGETTY/ODFJELL DRILLING

Drilling ship at centre of row between China and Vietnam has arrived at the Malaysian port of Labuan

The row over the drilling inflamed tensions between Vietnam and China, whose claims in the South China Sea are disputed by five Southeast Asian countries.

Repsol said last month that drilling had been suspended after the company spent $27 million on the well. Co-owners of the block are Vietnam’s state oil firm and Mubadala Development Co of the United Arab Emirates.

The block lies inside the U-shaped “nine-dash line” that marks the area that China claims in the sea.

China had urged a halt to the exploration work and a diplomatic source with direct knowledge of the situation said that the decision to suspend drilling was taken after a Vietnamese delegation visited Beijing.


Drilling was suspended after pressure from China

Deepsea Metro I shipODFJELL DRILLING

Deepsea Metro I ship used by Norway’s Odfjell Drilling Ltd

Vietnam has never confirmed that drilling started or that it was suspended, but last month defended its right to explore in the area.

Vietnam has emerged as the most vocal opponent of Chinese claims in the South China Sea, where more than $3 trillion in cargo passes every year, and China was also angered by Vietnam’s stand at a regional meeting last week.Vietnam held out for language that noted concern about island-building and criticised militarisation in South China Sea in the communique from foreign ministers of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).


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Deepsea Metro I

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Chinese H-6 bomber

 (Is the Philippines just a pawn for China now?)

The ONLY TRULY JOYFUL FACES at the ASEAN conference were provided by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, left, and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.  (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)



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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.

Philippine News Agency Criticized For Using Xinhua Article On South China Sea Dispute

August 9, 2017
Originally by Chinese news wire agency Xinhua, the story – titled “Time to turn a new leaf on South China Sea issue” – was released on the PNA website on Sunday. File

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine News Agency (PNA) is in hot water anew after it released an article that appears to side with China on the South China Sea issue.

Originally by Chinese news wire agency Xinhua, the story – titled “Time to turn a new leaf on South China Sea issue” – was released on the PNA website on Sunday.

It focused on China’s supposed commitment to improving the situation in the South China Sea, at one point calling the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the Philippine case “ill-founded.”

The commentary noted that China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to “directly resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes through peaceful means.”

“More than one year after an ill-founded award at a South China Sea arbitration unilaterally delivered by an ad hoc tribunal in The Hague, the situation in the South China Sea has stabilized and improved thanks to the wisdom and sincerity of China and the parties concerned,” the article read, referring to the ruling that voided Beijing’s claims over the whole of the South China Sea by affirming the Philippines’ maritime entitlements.

“China always respects the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea in compliance with international law, but it should by no means be used as an excuse by certain countries outside the region to stir up trouble,” it added.

President Duterte has expressed willingness to temporarily set aside the ruling to improve the Philippines’ ties with China. But he promised to bring up the tribunal’s decision before Chinese leaders within his term.

PNA has since taken down the article, although it is still available through the Google web cache (

Netizens immediately criticized PNA for releasing the story, questioning the state-funded agency for supposedly being a mouthpiece of China.

“What’s this? This must be a mistake! PNA becoming a mouthpiece of China? PNA criticizing in effect tribunal ruling in favor of PH?!” former Cabinet official and Parañaque representative Roilo Golez said on Twitter.

“Is PNA funded by China now? It looks like it is now,” another added.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar said he has asked PNAofficials to explain why they should not face administrative charges for posting the Xinhua commentary.

“We have already sent a (memorandum) to PNA to explain in writing why they should not be held liable for any administrative charges,” Andanar said in a statement.

“We will take appropriate action against liable PNA officials and/or staff, if they are found to commit negligence in carrying out their duties and responsibilities,” he added.




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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.

Hurrah for Vietnam, the country with cojones

August 9, 2017

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VIETNAM PROVIDED THE ONLY REAL DRAMA at the ASEAN conference. Here, Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh (at left in blue) is the only one brave enough to challenge China at the ASEAN conference in the Philippines, August 5, 2017. At right, Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano tries to write language that Vietnam can agree to. POOL photo

Hurrah for Vietnam, the country with cojones. You can understand why the Vietnamese have defeated every powerful country that invaded or attacked a land that produced courageous patriots like Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap. In their victories, the Vietnamese didn’t even have any help from the United Nations or any UN-supported court.

These days Vietnam is taking on its giant neighbor, practically all by itself in a sea of compliant Chinese satellites in Southeast Asia. Given the history of Vietnam, it’s doubtful that it will be deterred by the lack of support for its maritime territorial cause from its fellow members in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations led by the current holder of the revolving chair, the Philippines.

Perhaps if Vietnam also filed a case against China before the UN-backed Permanent Arbitration Court in The Hague, international support may be mustered for the implementation of the PAC ruling last year that invalidated Beijing’s claim over nearly all of the South China Sea.

The Philippines, the clear winner in last year’s landmark ruling, should have taken the lead role in rallying international support for compliance with the PAC ruling. Beijing, after all, can be reasonable and has implemented reforms in the past to comply with global rules. Any nation that wants respect on the world stage cannot thumb its nose at international rules, especially those it has itself ratified, such as the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Instead the Philippines, under the current leadership, has decided to set aside the ruling as a way of poking critics in the eye – notably those condemning its human rights record such as the UN, the European Commission and the US (under the Obama administration).

President Duterte then announced a pivot to US rival China. So far, by his own admission, he’s finding it difficult to get even his own loyal military forces to go along with his pivot and turn their backs on treaty ally the United States.

This is especially difficult when the troops see the Chinese rapidly constructing artificial islands all over the South China Sea – including areas specifically awarded by the arbitral court to the Philippines such as Panganiban or Mischief Reef off Palawan. Now the islands are being equipped for military purposes. You have to be blind or high on banned substances not to see this happening.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is tasked with external defense, which includes protecting Philippine maritime territory. The Chinese island-building and militarization pose problems for the AFP that the commander-in-chief cannot ignore.

Duterte has often expressed regret at having to send AFP members to possible death in Marawi and other conflict zones in Mindanao. Government troops like this President because they can sense that he genuinely grasps the gravity of asking soldiers to be ready to die for their country.

But the President should put his ears closer to the ground at AFP and defense department headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo. There he can hear grumblings about his seeming failure to grasp the threat that soldiers may have to confront one day in the South China Sea – specifically, in the area awarded to the country under UNCLOS as exclusive economic zones, which we call the West Philippine Sea.

* * *

This does not mean that warmer ties with the world’s second largest economy aren’t welcome. President Duterte deserves credit for this.

China is among the oldest friends of the Philippines; the two countries are linked not just by historical, cultural and economic bonds but also blood ties. I am just one of millions of Filipinos with ancestral roots in southern China.

For friendship to endure, however, it must be anchored on mutual respect. There is no respect in encroaching on your neighbor’s territory, which any map will show is way beyond your part of the planet. You don’t even need the UNCLOS for this; good neighbors know where to set reasonable boundaries.

Even President Duterte is aware of the importance of international rules, at least when it comes to trade.

Duterte has emphasized that he is not junking the PAC ruling, but merely waiting for the right time to bring it up with Beijing. For now, he prefers to focus on mending fences first with China and expanding cooperation in many other areas such as fighting the drug menace and terrorism as well as improving public works infrastructure.

It’s a sound approach for dealing with the “face”-sensitive, nationalistic Chinese after the arbitral court ruling.

But the President will have to present to the nation soon some positive consequence of his government’s rapprochement with Beijing. The AFP is waiting for it; Filipinos are waiting for it.

The one time that he raised the issue with his Chinese counterpart, he was threatened with war. Sure, the threat was softened by handshakes and grins and the diplomatese of formal meetings between the leader of a host country and a guest. But the message was unequivocal: if Duterte pushed through with Philippine exploration for minerals in waters declared as part of its economic zone by a UN-backed court, it would mean war with China.

How did we react to the threat? With bowing and scraping before the masters of the South China Sea.

ASEAN, especially under its current chair, has been largely useless against the masters. Its ministers issued an unsurprising, non-binding statement calling for self-restraint and “non-militarization” in the South China Sea – already a fait accompli.

China was the clear winner at the ASEAN gathering in Manila.




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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.

Asean goes soft on China

August 2, 2017
In a draft statement, ASEAN foreign ministers said they tasked the ASEAN-China Senior Officials’ Consultation (ACSOC) mechanism to begin discussions on a substantive and effective COC on the basis of the framework as soon as possible. File

MANILA, Philippines –  The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is seen to take a softer stand on China’s aggressive moves in disputed waters and to highlight instead the conclusion of negotiations on a framework of the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (COC).

The latest talks on the COC were held on May 18 in Guiyang, China.

In a draft statement, ASEAN foreign ministers said they tasked the ASEAN-China Senior Officials’ Consultation (ACSOC) mechanism to begin discussions on a substantive and effective COC on the basis of the framework as soon as possible.

ASEAN and China are set to endorse a framework for a COC that will regulate the future behavior of the parties concerned during the meeting in Manila this week. The framework will be endorsed for eventual crafting of a COC.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the framework, completed ahead of the mid-2017 goal set by the leaders of ASEAN and China, contains elements which the parties have agreed to.

But the draft does not call for a legally binding COC, as some ASEAN countries had wanted.

Pending conclusion of a substantive COC, the ministers reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability, security and freedom of navigation and overflight in and above the South China Sea.

“In this regard, we underscored the importance of the full and effective implementation of the DOC (Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea) in its entirety,” the draft communiqué said.

“Taking note of concerns expressed by some ministers over recent developments in the area, we reaffirmed the importance of enhancing mutual trust and confidence, exercising self-restraint in the conduct of activities, pursuing mutually agreed practical maritime areas of cooperation, and avoiding unilateral actions in disputed features that may further complicate the situation in keeping with the principle of peaceful resolution of disputes without resorting to the threat or use of force,” the draft statement said.

The draft communiqué did not mention the July 12, 2016 arbitral ruling in favor of the Philippines.

‘Philippines should seek enforcement of arbitral award’

But Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the Philippines should seek enforcement of the arbitration ruling against China on disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea.

Carpio said this after warning that a joint venture with China on the disputed islands would violate the Constitution.

Carpio said the Duterte administration should instead push for its territorial rights stemming from the government’s victory before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).

He raised suggestions as the country is set to host next week the ASEAN foreign ministers for the framework of the COC for claimants in the maritime row.

Among the options for the government, according to Carpio, is to initiate an agreement among all ASEAN members with territorial claims in the South China Sea like Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia to declare that no geologic feature in the Spratly Islands generates an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that could overlap among countries as ruled by the PCA.

He also suggested that the Philippines enter into sea boundary agreements with Vietnam and Malaysia on overlapping EEZ on the extended continental shelf claim in the Spratlys.

Carpio explained such agreements would implement part of the arbitral ruling that no geologic feature in the Spratly Islands generates an EEZ.

“Even if only the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia will agree to this declaration, it will clearly remove any maritime delimitation dispute among them leaving, only the territorial disputes,” the magistrate said in an interview.

He explained that such declarations would also isolate China as the only state claiming an EEZ from geologic features in the Spratly islands.

The SC justice said another option would be to file before the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf an extended continental shelf (ECS) claim beyond the country’s 200-nautical mile EEZ in the West Philippine Sea off the coast of Luzon.

Carpio believes that the UN body would likely award the ECS claim to the Philippines since China would not participate in the process and oppose it. This would be similar to the Philippines’ ECS claim in Benham Rise, which was unopposed.

“If China opposes our ECS claim, China would have a dilemma on what ground to invoke,” he stressed, adding that China cannot invoke its nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea as the CLCS is bound by the PCA ruling under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Carpio reiterated that the Philippines can file a new case before the UNCLOS tribunal if China starts reclamation activities in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal as this would destroy the traditional fishing ground of Filipino, Vietnamese and Chinese fishermen.

Carpio earlier criticized the policy of the Duterte administration on the territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea for “setting aside” the PCA award won by the legal team, of which he was part.

He said the policy is “without discernible direction coherence of vision” and “relies more on improvisation than on long-term strategy.”

But the SC justice clarified the blame does not fall on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), because it is Duterte who is the chief architect of the country’s foreign policy.

DFA spokesman Robespierre Bolivar earlier said the PCA ruling might not be mentioned in the framework to be approved by the ASEAN foreign ministers.

The official said the framework would be “generic” and would only outline the nature of the code of conduct for parties in the dispute.


Doklam deadlock: India and China will constantly challenge each other, get used to it

 (July 8, 2017)

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.


Cambodia PM orders closure of child sex slave charity

August 1, 2017


© AFP/File | Hun Sen has long jousted with local and international NGOs, which he accuses of meddling in Cambodian affairs

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Cambodia’s premier Hun Sen on Tuesday ordered a Christian charity that rescues child sex slaves to be shut down, after it featured in a recent CNN report that he described as an “insult” to his country.The impoverished Southeast Asian nation has long been a destination for sex tourists, with minors often the victims of a flesh trade aided by endemic corruption.

A CNN report broadcast on 25 July featured three girls who were reportedly rescued from the sex trade by Agape International Missions (AIM), a charity founded by an American pastor which has been operating in the country since 1988.

The girls had first appeared in a 2013 documentary by CNN on Svay Pak, a poor suburb on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, before the network decided to pay them another visit this year and follow up on their fate.

Until a crackdown in the early 2000s Svay Pak hosted a huge red light district notorious for child sex slaves and the documentary showed the trade still existed a decade on.

The head of the charity, American pastor Don Brewster, was quoted in last week’s report as saying that Svay Pak was “at one point the epicenter” of the child sex trade.

He said things had dramatically improved in recent years but that some trade in minors still occured behind closed doors.

But Hun Sen, one of the world’s longest serving leaders, took exception to the report.

“I cannot accept the insult by an NGO that was broadcasted on CNN… that said in Cambodia mothers sold daughters to be prostitutes,” he told a graduation ceremony.

“This is an insult that cannot be tolerated. At any cost, this organisation must leave Cambodia. We cannot let them stay anymore,” he added.

AIM did not respond to requests for comment.

Hun Sen and nationalists seized on an early version of CNN’s online report which described the girls as Cambodian, when in fact they either spoke Vietnamese or Khmer with a thick Vietnamese accent.

CNN later removed the word Cambodian from their headline.

The network did not respond to an AFP request for comment but told the Cambodia Daily it “stood by its reporting”.

Many of Svay Pak’s poorest and most vulnerable inhabitants are indeed Vietnamese migrants.

But police raids, court cases and efforts by charities show ample evidence over the years that children from impoverished Cambodian families are also at risk of sex trafficking.

Hun Sen has long jousted with local and international NGOs, which he accuses of meddling in Cambodian affairs.

In 2015 he drove through a controversial and broadly-worded law that allows authorities to shutter any that harms national security or the “traditions and culture” of Cambodia.


Four more activists detained in Vietnam as anti-free speech crackdown continues

July 30, 2017


© AFP/File | Vietnam has arrested four more dissidents as the leadership intensifies a crackdown on critics

HANOI (AFP) – Four dissidents have been arrested in Vietnam on charges of trying to overthrow the state, authorities said Sunday as the country’s communist leadership ramps up its crackdown on critics.Activists, rights lawyers and bloggers are routinely jailed in the one-party state but a new government in place since last year has vigorously pursued detractors.

The four latest arrests were of dissidents who had previously served jail sentences for anti-state convictions. But the current charge they face is much more serious and can carry the death penalty.

Prominent dissidents Pham Van Troi and Nguyen Bac Truyen, freelance writer Truong Minh Duc and Protestant pastor Nguyen Trung Ton were all arrested at their homes on Sunday, their wives told reporters.

In an online statement the Ministry of Public Security said the four were arrested under Article 79 of the criminal code — trying to “overthrow the people’s administration”.

They are connected to lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and activist Le Thu Ha, who have already been detained on the same charge.

“My husband fought against social injustice and China’s invasion of the East Sea,” Troi’s wife Nguyen Thi Huyen Trang told AFP, using the Vietnamese name for the South China Sea.

“He did not have any move to try to overthrow the state.”

Ton’s wife Nguyen Thi Lanh said her husband was already recovering from a recent assault by plainclothes police when he was arrested.

“Voicing support for the people cannot be called trying to overthrow the administration,” she told AFP.

Vietnam has competiting claims with China in the South China Sea but Hanoi is extremely sensitive to any criticism about how it handles the issue.

John Sifton, from Human Rights Watch, said 2017 has been “a terrible year” for human rights in Vietnam.

“More cases of government thugs beating up dissidents, longer and longer jail sentences, and now, more arrests,” he said.

“Vietnam’s allies and donors, especially the EU and Japan, need to speak up,” he added.

Last month prominent blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, known as “Mother Mushroom”, was jailed for 10 years for Facebook posts about politics and the environment.

Anti-China activist Tran Thi Nga, 40, was imprisoned for nine years for anti-state activities after a one-day trial last week in the northern province of Ha Nam, to which media access was restricted.

The United Nations human rights office on Friday criticised the intensifying crackdown on rights and the recent convictions.


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Photo by Human Rights Watch: Earlier this year it seemed as if every human rights person in Vietnam was assaulted in bloody attacks — From L-R, photographs of (top) Nguyen Chi Tuyen, Nguyen Thi Thai Lai, La Viet Dung, Nguyen Van Thanh, (bottom) Tran Thi Nga, Dinh Quang Tuyen, and Le Dinh Luong after being assaulted by anonymous “thugs” in Vietnam.


Vietnam: End Attacks on Activists and Bloggers
Pattern of Thuggish Assaults Against Rights Campaigners Across Country


July 30, 2017

Vietnam Arrests Four Activists, Charges 6 With Subversion

by Defend the Defenders, July 30, 2017

On July 30, the Security Investigation Agency of Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security carried out arrests of four activists namely Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Trung Ton, Truong Minh Duc and Nguyen Bac Truyen, charging them with “Carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under Article 79 of Vietnam’s 1999 Penal Code.

The detainees will be held incommunicado in the next four months for investigation on the case in which involve prominent human rights attorney Nguyen Van Dai and his assistant Ms. Le Thu Ha who were arrested on December 16, 2015 and charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code, the ministry said on its website.

In the morning of Sunday, the agency carried out the arrests of Mr. Ton, Mr. Duc and Mr. Troi at their private residences, and conducted house search, taking away a number of their personnel items, including Bible books of Mr. Ton, who is a Protestant pastor. Meanwhile, Mr. Truyen, head of Vietnamese Political & Religious Prisoners Friendship Association, was reported to have been gone missing when he was waiting for his wife at a gate of the Ky Dong Redemptory’s Church in Ho Chi Minh City in the morning of the day. His wife failed to contact with him by phone so she supposed he was kidnapped by local security forces.

All of the detainees are former prisoners of conscience. Mr. Troi is a former president of Brotherhood of Democracy formed by Mr. Dai while Mr. Ton is the organization’s incumbent president and Mr. Duc is his deputy responsible for the southern region. Duc is also a senior staff of the Viet Labor Movement.

The six activists face imprisonment of between twelve and twenty years of imprisonment, life imprisonment or capital punishment if are convicted, according to the country’s current law.

Mr. Ton, 45, was a prisoner of conscience. He was arrested in 2011 and sentenced to two years in prison on charges of “anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code. Released in early 2013, he has continued to fight for human rights and multi-party democracy. Recently, he was elected as the head of the Brotherhood for Democracy.

In recent years, Mr. Ton and his family have been constantly harassed by local authorities in Thanh Hoa province. In addition to publicly defaming him through local media, the radio and loudspeakers in his neighborhood, plainclothes agents have disrupted the business of his wife at a local wet market. They even destroyed her booth of seafood products.

In late February, Ton and his friend were kidnapped, robbed and brutally beaten by plainclothes agents in the central province of Quang Binh. His legs were broken as the kidnappers used wooden sticks to beat him. He is still under special treatment for injuries sustaining from the attack after long spending in hospitals for surgery operation for his legs.

Mr. Troi, 46, was arrested in 2008 and charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code. Later, he was sentenced to four years in prison and additional four years under house arrest.

After being released in September 2012, he has continued to work for promoting human rights and multi-party democracy. In 2014-2016, he was president of the unsanctioned Brotherhood for Democracy founded by imprisoned human right lawyer Nguyen Van Dai.

Mr. Duc, 57, was arrested in 2007 and later sentenced to five years in prison on allegation of “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 258 of the Penal Code. After being released in May 2012, he has been under constant persecution, including physical attacks. Currently, he is vice president of Viet Labor Movement. Hoang Duc Binh, vice president of the movement, was arrested on May 15 and charged with “resisting persons in the performance of their official duties” under Article 257 and “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens” under Article 258 of the Penal Code.

Meanwhile, Mr. Truyen, 49, has been beaten many times by thugs since being released in May 2010. In 2006, he was arrested and charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88. Later he was sentenced to 3.5 years.

The arrests and allegations are part of Vietnam’s intensifying crackdown against local political dissidents, human rights advocates, social activists and independent bloggers amid increasing social dissatisfaction on systemic corruption, economic mismanagement, heavy environmental pollution and other problems that the Southeast Asian nation is facing.

On July 26, police in the central province of Nghe An arrested Le Dinh Luong and charged him with “Carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under Article 79 of the Penal Code.

Within one month from June 29, Vietnam sentenced two human rights defenders Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh and Tran Thi Nga to nine and ten years in jail, respectively on charges of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code.

Dozens of activists have been arrested and many of them sentenced to heavy imprisonments since the beginning of 2016 when the ruling communist party held its National Congress to elect the new leadership for the 2016-2020 period, with many police generals being selected to key positions of the party and state apparatuses.

The communist government has strived to keep the country under a one-party regime and make all effort to prevent the formation of opposition party.

Vietnam jails dissident nine years for propaganda against state

July 25, 2017

HANOI (Reuters) – A court in Vietnam jailed a prominent dissident for nine years and gave her five years of probation for spreading propaganda against the state, her lawyer said on Tuesday, in what appeared to be the Communist-ruled country’s latest crackdown on critics.

Despite sweeping reforms to its economy and growing openness to social change, including gay, lesbian and transgender rights, Vietnam’s Communist Party retains tight media censorship and does not tolerate criticism.

Blogger Tran Thi Nga was found guilty at a one-day trial in the northern province of Ha Nam, six months after being arrested for posting the offending material on the internet, lawyer Ha Huy Son said.

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Trần Thị Nga

“This is an unfair verdict,” he said. “Nga is not guilty as stated by the court.”

The charges against Nga are “bogus”, said New York-based Human Rights Watch.

“The Vietnamese government consistently goes to extremes to silence its critics, targeting activists like Tran Thi Nga with bogus charges that carry a long prison sentence, and subjecting their families to harassment and abuse,” its deputy Asia director, Phil Robertson, said in a statement.

Separately, police on Monday arrested a prominent dissident they have accused of conducting activities aimed at overthrowing the government.

The arrest of Le Dinh Luong, 51, followed his “regular activities with the aim to overthrow the authority and complicate local security,” police in the central province of Nghe An said on their news website, but did not elaborate.

It was not possible to contact Luong and it was not known if he had legal representation.

Nga’s verdict and Luong’s arrest come just a month after a court jailed prominent blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, known as “Me Nam”, or Mother Mushroom, for 10 years for publishing propaganda against the state.

Several dissidents and bloggers voiced support online for both Nga and Luong. With information tightly controlled by the government, some critics take to web blogs to air grievances and social media sites, including Facebook, are hugely popular.

Luong and Quynh had both spoken out against a subsidiary of Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Corp that caused one of Vietnam’s biggest environmental disasters in April.

South China Sea: One Year After The Philippines Win At The Permanent Court of Arbitration — Brilliant Statecraft or Treason?

July 12, 2017

By Ellen Tordesillas

Posted at Jul 12 2017 02:46 AM

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One of the good things that President Duterte has done was to rekindle relations with China which reached its lowest ebb during the administration of Benigno Aquino III.

Never mind that during the election campaign, he rode on the anti-China sentiments of most Filipinos fueled by the pro-American leanings of Aquino and his Foreign Secretary, Albert del Rosario.

Remember, a standard in Duterte’s campaign speech was his boast that he will ride on a jet ski to one of the islands in the disputed Spratlys and plant the Philippine flag. He would kiss the flag to dramatize his promise. Once in Malacanang, he was asked when he was going to jetski to Spratlys and he replied it was a joke. He said he didn’t even know how to swim.

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In the guise of independent foreign policy, Duterte didn’t just cozy up to China. He attacked the United States when then President Barack Obama reminded him to respect human rights amid reports of rampant killings in connection with his anti-illegal drugs campaign.

His foreign policy moves can be likened to a pendulum that swung from extreme right to extreme left. Today marks first year anniversary of the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands on the case filed by the Philippines against China on the latter’s activities in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

China did not participate in the Arbitral Court proceedings.

It was a major victory for the Philippines. The Arbitral Court declared invalid China’s nine-dashed line map which covers some 85 percent of the whole South China which infringes on the economic exclusive zones of other countries namely the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

The Arbitral Court also ruled that China’s  artificial islands – rocks that were turned into garrisons through reclamation – in the disputed South China Sea do not generate entitlements under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea such as economic exclusive zone (220 nautical miles from the shore) and extended continental shelf (350 nautical miles).

As to Scarborough or Panatag Shoal, which is within the Philippine EEZ, the Arbitral Court said it’s a traditional fishing ground of Philippine, Chinese, Vietnamese and fishermen of other nationalities and should be maintained as such.

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Filipino fishermen had been denied access to the area since April 2012 after a two-month stand off between Chinese and Philippine Coastguards following arrest by a Philippine warship of Chinese fishermen in Scarborough shoal. Two Chinese ships remained even after the Aquino government withdrew its ships.

Duterte takes pride that because of his friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Filipino fishermen are now allowed to fish in the area, which is being guarded by two Chinese ships.

It’s like a battered wife thankful that the husband has stopped beating her.

Duterte’s critics have scored his deference to China even  echoing  the position of China that historically South China Sea is theirs  as the name states.

In an ambush interview last April. Duterte said, “They really claim it as their own, noon pa iyan. Hindi lang talaga pumutok nang mainit. Ang nagpainit diyan iyong Amerikano. Noon pa iyan, kaya (It goes way back. The issue just did not erupt then. What triggered the conflict were the Americans. But it goes all the way back. That’s why it’s called) China Sea… sabi nga nila (they say) China Sea, historical na iyan. So hindi lang iyan pumuputok (It’s historical. The issue just had not erupted then) but this issue was the issue before so many generations ago.”

VERA Files fact-check about the name of South China Sea showed  that  South China Sea used to be called the Champa Sea, after the Cham people who established a great maritime kingdom in central Vietnam from the late 2nd to the 17th century.

That is contained in the book,  ‘The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea” by  Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

Carpio said it was the  Portuguese navigators who coined the name South China Sea.

“The ancient Malays also called this sea Laut Chidol or the South Sea, as recorded by Pigafetta in his account of Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation of the world from 1519 to 1522. In Malay, which is likewise derived from the Austronesian language, laut means sea and kidol means south,” he further said.

“The ancient Chinese never called this sea the South China Sea. Their name for the sea was “Nan Hai” or the South Sea, he adds.

Reading Duterte’s blurting the Chinese line on the South China name, Ruben Carranza, former commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government and now director of the Reparative Justice Program at the International Center for Transitional Justice, said “In football, that would be an ‘own goal.’

That’s when a player delivers the ball to the opponent’s goal.



 (Contains links to information about Vietnam’s renewed efforts to extract oil and gas from the sea bed)

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Dominance of the South China Sea, the Malacca Strait and the Indian Ocean would solidify China’s One Belt One Road project
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The international arbitration court in the Hague said on July 12, 2016, that China’s “nine dash line” was not recognized under international law — making the Vietnamese and Philippine claims on South China Sea islands valid and lawful.
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China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning at Hong Kong

2 Vietnamese held captive by Abu Sayyaf militants in the Philippines — decapitated

July 5, 2017

The bodies of Hoang Thong and Hoang Va Hai were found by villagers in the town of Sumisip, said the military’s Western Mindanao Command. Pictures showed their decapitated heads beside their bodies.

The two were among six crewmen of the Vietnamese cargo vessel MV Royal 16 taken by gunmen last November in seawaters off Basilan amid a wave of sea assaults that have alarmed the region’s leaders.

One of the six crewmen was rescued in June. Three others remain captive.

Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., the military’s regional commander, condoled with the families of the slain victims, saying “we grieve as we strongly condemn the barbaric beheading.” The military and police have been exhausting all efforts to rescue the kidnap victims, he added.

“In no way does the Abu Sayyaf group represent our Muslim brothers who are true followers of Islam,” Galvez said.

Officials said the bodies will undergo forensic examination as they coordinate with the Vietnamese Embassy in Manila. Soldiers and policemen are getting more details about the incident, they added.

In February, gunmen attacked another Vietnamese cargo ship off the Philippines’ southern tip, killing a Vietnamese crewman and abducting six others, including the vessel’s captain, the Philippine coast guard and the ship’s owner said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his Malaysian and Indonesian counterparts have struggled to deal with a wave of attacks by the Abu Sayyaf and allied gunmen who target tugboats and cargo ships along their busy sea borders.

The three countries launched coordinated maritime patrols last month to intensify their fight against Islamic militants, piracy, kidnapping, terrorism and other crimes in regional waters.

South China Sea: The Facts Against China

June 6, 2017

Philippine Daily Inquirer


12:10 AM June 07, 2017

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio of the Supreme Court says he has a “civic duty” to sound the alarm: The Philippines may lose the West Philippine Sea, including 80 percent of its exclusive economic zone and 100 percent of its extended continental shelf, if it does nothing to stop China’s creeping expansionism in the region. He told the Meet Inquirer Multimedia forum on Monday: It is “the civic duty of every Filipino to defend our territory, defend our maritime entitlements in accordance with international law and our Constitution.”

To meet this civic duty, he suggested a three-anchor policy, borrowed from the Vietnamese experience: be friendly with China, defend Philippine territory, cultivate alliances. All three anchors must be in place, otherwise the ship of state will continue to be at risk.

Public opinion largely supports the legal approach that the Philippines took in its dispute with China, the same approach which led to the sweeping arbitral tribunal victory of July 12, 2016. That same public remains largely mistrustful of China.

There is a vocal segment of the public, however, which is ready to accept friendlier relations with China, including billion-dollar loans, but consider defense of territory inconvenient and stronger alliances unpatriotic or insufficiently post-ideological.

As a group, they subscribe to several untruths; we should set them right with the following facts:

The main cause of the South China Sea disputes is China’s aggressive expansionism in the region. The conflicting claims, involving not only the Philippines and China, but also Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Taiwan, are not reducible to a geopolitical power play between China and the United States. The claims are rooted in Beijing’s irresponsible and unsupported assertion—first made only in 1947, refined in 1950, and officially announced to the United Nations only in 2009—that China enjoys “indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters, and enjoys sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the relevant waters as well as the seabed and subsoil thereof.” This sweeping assertion violates both the letter and spirit of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which all disputants are signatories.

The notion that the Philippines is a mere plaything trapped in a contest of wills between two superpowers reassures those who wish to take no resolute action against China, but it is not based on reality. The United States is necessarily a factor in the disputes, in part because the biggest economy with the largest navy has a vested interest in freedom of navigation through the vital South China Sea, and in part because it has a Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines. But to assert that the United States bears equal blame for the current disputes is to engage in the worst sort of false equivalence. Since the 1980s, China has been expanding its hold on the Paracels, on the Spratly, and now even on Scarborough Shoal.

The case that the Philippines filed with the arbitral tribunal is not the cause of the current tension—and it is appalling that some Filipinos actually think this is true. The Philippines was forced to file the case after the Chinese deception in 2012, when they took control of Scarborough Shoal. That year, a standoff between Philippine and Chinese fishing vessels at the shoal led to a diplomatic initiative; the United States brokered a deal agreed to by the foreign ministries of both the Philippines and China that called for a mutual withdrawal from the shoal. The Philippines complied; China did not.

The arbitral tribunal ruling is a true landmark—a sweeping victory for the Philippines (because it invalidates the 1947/1950 “nine-dash line” which undergirds China’s expansionist claims to almost all of the South China Sea) and for other claimants as well. Contrary to the thinking of the appeasement bloc in the Philippine political class, the ruling is an enforceable decision—not because China will suddenly cave in under the weight of the legal ruling, but because China, the world’s second largest economy, is a signatory to many other international covenants and itself believes in the power of arbitration.

Defeatism is not a policy.

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(Contains links to previous related articles)

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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said China’s “nine dash line” was not recognized under international law.